web stats

CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #35-31

You voted, now here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book creator runs of all-time! We’ll be revealing five runs a day for most of the month. Here is a master list of all of the runs revealed so far.

Here’s the next five runs…

35. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates – 265 points (2 first place votes)

Ultimates #1-13, Ultimates 2 #1-13

The Ultimates is essentially a post-modern take on the Avengers, with all of the characters filled with all sorts of neuroses, while the realistic artwork of Bryan Hitch helps to show what it would look like if there were actual superheroes in the world.

Captain America is recovered at the end of the first issue, and he is brought in to lead a team of superheroes, consisting of Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp.

Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, is also involved.

The book is noted for its widescreen action, courtesy of Bryan Hitch (taking the same style he used to such great effect on The Authority), and the soap opera drama that occurs throughout the series, such as when Giant Man physically abuses his wife, the Wasp, and is thrown off the team. When Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk and goes on a rampage in New York, the team is forces to go into action for the first time against one of their own colleagues! This is when Thor joins the team, although through odd means.

The rest of the series involves an alien invasion, and the addition of new members, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

Check out the over-the-top action Hitch draws so well…

Writer Mark Millar ramps up the drama in the second volume, doubts have been raised as to whether Thor is a real god, or if he is just insane. Meanwhile, there is a traitor in the Ultimates’ midsts, and another invasion is coming – this time from other countries on Earth.

The finale ended with some beautiful Bryan Hitch artwork. Millar later returned to do a few sequels, now starring a Black Ops version of the Ultimates.

34. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways – 272 points (6 first place votes)

Runaways #1-18, Runaways Vol. 2 #1-24

Part of a new line of Marvel comics, Runaways is the only one still coming out, and that has all to do with the ability of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona to create likable characters that people want to see more of.

The concept of Runaways was a clever one – a group of teens (and one pre-teen) meet each other every year when their parents have some sort of meeting. When they decide to snoop around, they discover the unthinkable – their parents are supervillains!!! With this knowledge in mind, the kids decide to (wait for it..) run away, each taking something with them from their parents, whether it be Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)’s magical powers, Karolina Dean (Lucy in the Sky)’s alien abilities, Gertrude Yorkes (Arsenic)’s pet dinosaur, Chase Stein (Talkback)’s gadgets, Molly Hayes (Bruiser/Princess Powerful)’s mutant strength or Alex Wilder’s cunning and tactical abilities.

On the run, they try to both foil their parents’ schemes while also trying to do some good.

Here’s the bit where they pick out their nicknames…

The key to this series, like most great series, is the character interaction between the group. Vaughan created some in-depth intriguing personalities here, whether it be Karolina struggling with her sexual identity, Chase and Gert’s burgeoning relationship, Nico and Alex’s flirtation, or Molly’s amusing comments (as the youngest, Molly was the comic relief of the series, although she often had serious moments, too).

The first volume ended with tragedy, and in the second volume, the group added two new members, a Skrull (Xavin) who was engaged to Karolina (via her parents, of course) and Victor, who was sort of the son of Ultron.

Vaughan and Alphona (who was a wonder to see on the comic, as he just got better and better and better as the series progressed) left the book to Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan after #24 of the current series.

33. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s Scalped – 289 points (4 first place votes)

Story continues below

Scalped #1-60

Scalped was a brilliant crime drama from Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera that told the story of an FBI agent named Dashiell Bad Horse who is sent undercover in the reservation that he grew up in to take down the chief of the reservation, Lincoln Red Crow.

Scalped was a character-driven work, and one of the ways Scalped let the characters drive the narrative was continually playing various characters against each other and in and out of various roles. Does character A belong in this box or this box? Where each of the characters end up from the start of the series is at first glance quite surprising, but the more you learn about these people the more their final decisions make sense. It is a great testament to Aaron’s skills as a writer that he naturally evolved all of these characters and gave them such great depths that all of their decisions were well within their respective character arcs.

Clearly, the most important relationship in the series is that between Lincoln Red Crow and Dashiell Bad Horse.

Red Crow is likely the most fascinating character in the series. Here’s a great moment where he gets introspective about just who Lincoln Red Crow IS…

Guera’s a brilliant artist, as his noir art style perfectly evoked the feelings Aaron was going for in each issue. Aaron was lucky to have a nunber of good fill-in artists, as well. Plus, Jock and John Paul Leon KILLED it on the covers of this series.

Much like Garth Ennis, Aaron’s talents in this series lie in getting you to become invested in these characters so that when the screws are turned on them you have a visceral reaction. Scalped has some of the most haunting stories. Like the tale of Red Crow’s daughter and her sad, dark relationship with Dashiell. Or the poignant, heartbreaking plot of “Dead Mothers” (the scene of a group of siblings instinctively tearing up the hamburgers given to them by some police officers because that’s how they have learned to get by living with their crack addict mother is disturbingly realistic – their reaction when they realize that they EACH get a hamburger is startling). This is not a series for the faint of heart, but if you want interesting stories that all build on the stories that precede them, great characters, strong relationships, intriguing plot twists…then this is the series for you (provided, again, that you can deal with some effed up plots). It was certainly the series for me. One of my favorite series of the past five years. An “instant classic,” if you like.

32. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol – 333 points (8 first place votes)

Doom Patrol #19-63 (plus Doom Force #1, I suppose)

Arnold Drake created the Doom Patrol to be the world’s strangest superheroes, but by the time Grant Morrison took over the book, the second generation of the Doom Patrol were more of a half-hearted attempt at duplicating the success of the All-New, All-Different X-Men. Morrison decided to embrace the concept of the world’s strangest superheroes, and he gave the world a title that was strange, all right, but strange coming from the mind of Grant Morrison.

Outgoing writer Paul Kupperberg was kind enough to remove most of the members of the team for Morrison, as Morrison was really only interested, amongst the main cast members of the book, in Niles Caulder and Cliff Steele (although Josh Clay, a member of Kupperberg’s team, also stuck around, as the team doctor – Morrison would use him as the lone voice of sanity among all these bizarre goings-on, but sadly, as you might imagine, the one sane guy doesn’t stand much of a chance in a book like this). That said, Morrison DID bring back a minor character from early in Kupperberg’s run, the powerful girl with “imaginary” friends and a face like an ape, Doroty Spinner. New team members were Crazy Jane, who had different powers for each one of her split personalities and Danny the Street, who was, well, a street.

Morrison used the group to explore various secret groups, all with an idea for making the book as bizarre as possible. The great thing about it was that Morrison slowly made the book weirder and weirder as he went along, so the first issues are fairly normal, but if you compare his early issues to the end of his run – it’s like night and day.

Story continues below

Morrison used all sorts of different ways of telling stories, as well as doing a number of parodies, most notable of all, the Charles Atlas take-off, Flex Mentallo (who would later gain his own spin-off mini-series by Morrison and Frank Quitely). Some of the bizarre characters included the evil Scissormen, the Brotherhood of Dada, and one of Dorothy’s scariest creations, the Candlemaker.

Here is when the Doom Patrol had to solve the case of the Painting that ate Paris…

Towards the end of his run, Morrison spun the book around on its head, with a member of the group revealing a dark secret. By the time he left, he did not leave really much for incoming writer Rachel Pollack to do – the book really ought to have just ended with Morrison’s last issue, the book by the point of his departure was so indubitably his, and he took most of the coolest characters with him as he departed.

31. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos’ Transmetropolitan – 336 points (6 first place votes)

Transmetropolitan #1-60

Originally a part of a failed new line of comics (Helix), Transmetropolitan was soon the only comic left standing, and moved to Vertigo, where creators Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson told the adventures of journalist Spider Jerusalem (a tribute to the founder of “gonzo journalist,” the late Hunter S. Thompson) for five eventful years.

The basic concept of the series was simple – famed writer Spider Jerusalem has disappeared for five years, living a hermit existence, until the money he was paid in advance for writing two books dries up, and since he doesn’t have the books written, to avoid lawsuits, he returns to his job as a journalist to support himself while he finishes the books – and in the process, becomes involved in the life of The City once again.

The book is set in the future, although most of the events of the comic shadow events of the past, usually events from when Thompson first began reporting (so the late 60s/early 70s). Jerusalem has two female assistants who he refers to as his “filthy assistants.” The series is mostly built around the audience enjoying Jerusalem, a hilarious and cynical soul railing against the corruption of the future, a future so corrupt that someone as awful as Jerusalem can truly be seen as a hero.

The series ended with a very cool twist ending.


I hate seeing the Ultimates here. Its such an ugly comic in how it treats its characters. I like to think Morrison’s JLA Classified run was a response to how juvenile it was to make the Marvel heroes edgy. As if by killing and having some sort of psychosis Captain America and Thor were cooler characters.


I feel that comics like this and the Authority are made for the ageing comic community that doesn’t know how to have fun anymore. Oh well, I look forward to still seeing Englehart’s Avengers and Morrison’s JLA on this list. Two team books that know how to be light and fun…

Never got much into Transmetropolitan, though I like some other Ellis series a lot (most notably Planetary and Nextwave).

And yeah, I hated The Ultimates for a lot of the reason Macc describes. It’s like a Michael Bay movie in comics form, only much more mean-spirited.

The other three are great; happy to see them on the list.

no comment on Millar. hehe.

transmetropolitan…yeah, i dont think so…..
you know its a Ellis comic when everybody has to speak in ‘bad-ass’.

Not at all surprised to see Ultimates again. Enjoyed it well enough, but never loved it or anything.

Glad to see Runaways made it again. It’s a shame Marvel has managed to so completely botch it, as it has the potential to be a really solid, multi-media friendly title if they could, you know, publish it regularly.

The other three are all on my “to read” list, with Transmet probably closest to the top of the three and Doom Patrol at the bottom (I much prefer Morrison when he reigns in the weirdness a bit).

Ultimates is my favorite non-Morrison-co-written Millar work. No, it’s not the Avengers, but it’s not supposed to be. That doesn’t mean it should be that high.

Transmetropolitan is excellent, I really need to read Scalped, Doom Patrol is the one major Morrison work I haven’t read, and Runaways is great.

“Ultimates” was a fun series that I thought was ridiculously over-rated. I never bothered to read “Ultimates 2.”

Never read “Runaways” or Scalped,” although the latter has been on my “to read… eventually” list for a while now. Just haven’t had the chance to get to it just yet.

Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” rules everyone’s face. It was one of the four Morrison runs I badly wanted to include on my list, and I wound up limiting myself to two Morrison runs. I know I had his Batman run on the final list, but I don’t remember whether or not DP was the other one.

“Transmetropolitan” is one of my favorites, but I just couldn’t find room for it. Glad it came in pretty high.

Ultimates 2 was better than Ultimates 1 (which was a bit slow and exposition-y). I re-read bits of The Ultimates after watching The Avengers, and while The Avengers was fun, Ultimates made it seem kind of vapid. Ultimates simply has so much more plot and intrigue (it’s an action movie style comic book that’s better than almost any action movie), deeper characterization, and some really touching moments. I never cared about Captain America or Thor before Ultimates, not because I, as suggested above, prefer “edgy, psychotic killers”, but because the Ultimates versions seemed more real and three-dimensional as characters.

Nothing in this installment came anywhere near getting a vote from yours truly.

Read the first volume of “Ultimates” (in 2 TPB collections, I believe) — didn’t really like it.

Read a couple of digest-sized collections of the first few arcs of “Runaways” — didn’t really like it.

Never read Ellis’s “Transmetropolitan” or Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” work.

And I’m not sure if I had even heard of “Scalped” before!

Scalped was in my top 5 for sure, maybe even top 3. Couldn’t agree more about Guera being the perfect artist for that series along with the splendid covers. Still waiting to read the last trade of the series next month, but even if the series had a bad ending, it wouldn’t hurt my love for the first 90% of the series.

I’ve read the first 4 or 5 trades of Transmetropolitan from the library, but I moved and my current local library’s offerings pale in comparison. I love much of Ellis’s work and would probably have been tempted to vote for this if I had read more of it.

Doom Patrol & Runaways are on my to read list (which is hilariously long, so who knows when I will get to either)

I didn’t think that the Ultimates would be my cup of tea, and from the preview here, I think I was correct in my assumption. Millar’s past work hasn’t done much for me so I guess it’s not surprising. Hitch is pretty good though.

Doom Patrol was my #2 (if I remember correctly), it’s my favourite among Morrison’s major works. The Invisibles has more trippy ideas, Seven Soldiers is a tighter narrative, All-Star Superman and WE3 are bigger tear-jerkers, but when it comes thrill-powered plots, oddball yet very likable characters, and a constant barrage of wonderfully surreal ideas, I’d say Doom Patrol is the most potent example of Morrison’s strengths as a writer. Also, his final DP issue may be my single favourite superhero comic of all time; such a wonderful idea, and done with such great bathos, it’s one of the handful of comics that have made me cry while reading them.

I tried twice to read Transmetropolitan — my library has it to borrow — but the first couple issues bored me too much and I couldn’t go on. I only tried once to read Morrison’s Doom Patrol, and felt like maybe I would have enjoyed it if I was on drugs. Bad drugs.

Ultimates? Meh. I sure like Hitch’s art. But I didn’t like the way the characters were handled. I guess I didn’t identify with any of those characters. I like my super heroes to be heroic!

Runaways seemed like decent comics intended for Junior High School kids. Not for me.

Scalped was awesome and unique. But not without flaws. The series “jumped the shark” when Dashiell’s FBI handler suicidally stumbles into a crack house and accidentally discovers a terrorist cell and kills them. Get out of here with that! The ending of the series seemed weak, too. But I’ll give the writer a thumbs up for bringing something different to the table with this series.

Big day for my list. Scalped was my easy choice for #1, and I think Transmetropolitan was at least #4. And, in a somewhat serendipitous coincidence, I actually read the last issue of Doom Patrol last night, which was amazing. I was real close to putting it on the list, but held off for comics that I had read the whole run for. If I made the list now, it would be sure to get in.

Scalped – It’s really too bad that it has become such a cliche to compare any work of fiction that even touches on social affairs to The Wire, because if there’s anything deserving that comparison, it’s Scalped. Both narratives start out as simple crime stories, but over the course of time broaden out to become something much more interesting and nuanced. Over the course of sixty issues, Jason Aaron builds a full and very visceral world, chock full of characters who you grow to care about. There’s no pure evil, or uninterested good in Scalped, there are only people trying to reconcile themselves with the past, and the ever-pressing burden of their increasingly likely fate. Aaron does an extremely nice job with his character work. When he often takes a detour for an issue or two to focus on a new or seemingly peripheral character, your fully invested in the character’s fate by halfway through the issue, and they fit seamlessly into his ongoing narrative. What’s more, Scalped is one of the few items on this list that tell a complete, cohesive, self-contained, story. Great, great art too.

Transmetropolitan is really a 60 issue long Hunter S. Thompson homage, which might explain some people’s adverse reaction to it. But here’s the thing, HST gets shit (or gets revered) from people who are only familiar with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. These people only think of Thompson as a guru of intoxication, on a stumbling quest to to find profundity in a narcoleptic haze. While that HST is definitely present in Transmet so is the other Thompson, the Thompson that is less well-known. Because for a period in the ’70s Hunter S. Thompson was the most original, compelling, exiting voice in journalism. Talk to any true HST aficionado, and you’d be surprised how many there are, and how diverse they are, and they will tell you Hunter’s best work is his political journalism from the 70’s, particularly Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, ’72. When it’s at it’s best, which is pretty frequently, Transmet is a really smart take on mass culture, set in a dystopic future, starring Watergate-era Hunter S. Thompson. To get an idea what I mean, read #8 (there’s a Comixology sale that ends tonight!), “Another Cold Morning.” It’s about people “who have come out from cryogenic freeze, into a world they don’t understand, clinging to life in a city that has forgotten them completely.” It’s completely self-contained, you can go in knowing nothing, and it’s probably one of my three favorite single-issue comic books ever written.

Ultimates 2012: #35, 265 points
Ultimates 2008: #32, 315 points
Down 3 places, -50 points

Vaughan’s Runaways 2012: #34, 272 points
Vaughan’s Runaways 2008: #33, 307 points
Down 1 place, -35 points

Newcomer: Scalped, #33, 289 points
2008’s #33: See above

Morrison’s Doom Patrol 2012: #32, 333 points
Morrison’s Doom Patrol 2008: #14, 524 points
Down 18 places, -191 points

Transmetropolitan 2012: #31, 336 points
Transmetropolitan 2008: #23, 418 points
Down 8 places, -82 points

Another newcomer debuts high up the list. Scalped launched in 2007, and during the 2008 voting, there probably wasn’t enough of the series published to really make an impression on voters. Now that it’s complete and Jason Aaron is a major writer, Scalped has clearly begun to command a lot of attention from readers. Here’s to hoping the series stays in print.

We’re now at a point in the list where a series can lose point totals that would be very significant lower down, but here only cause their standing to shift slightly. Runaways and Ultimates both lose double-digit point values, just this only causes them to drift gently downward.

Transmetropolitan sees a more precipitous drop, in terms of both points and standing. This may be a case of a series sliding out of voters’ consciousness as a result of being hard to find and/or out of print. What I’ve heard from friends lately indicates that it’s very hard to find a complete run of the book in trade unless you’re willing to buy used. Even Amazon seems to be running low on copies.

Morrison’s Doom Patrol takes a huge dive from its 2008 standing, losing 191 points. I think that may be the highest point loss of any returning run yet. Again, I’ve heard from acquaintances that the book is either out of print or close to it, and that a full run is fairly difficult to find. I’m also starting to wonder if we’re seeing some Morrison backlash in this year’s voting. We’ll see if the rest of the results support either hypothesis.

Third of my runs to show up here – Transmetropolitan. I just loved the filthy assistants.

Doom Patrol – what I can find of it – is just fun. I wish I could’ve voted for it, but I only voted for runs I’ve read the entirety of. Ultimates is pretty to look at but the plot and dialogue get in the way of being good. Never read Runaways or Scalped.

Still waiting on my 7 of my runs, but I’m confident in all but one of them still.

Great showing by some modern gems. Transmet and Runaways both almost made my list but it ultimately leaned more old-school. Ultimates is good, I’ve heard good things about Scalped, and Doom Patrol is of course classic.

Like this batch a lot!

I wish Jason Aarons Marvel work could be like Scalped. I’m kinda hoping his Thor will take inspiration from the style of the book.

Ultimates – Ugggh… I don’t want to rip on this series, cause I know it has a lot of fans and gets attacked a lot. Let me just make this clear: I TOTALLY GET WHAT PEOPLE LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK! It’s big, it feels like a Hollywood epic, the characters are so shockingly different, it has post-modernism, it has Bryan freakin’ Hitch. I just really don’t like Mark Millar, and this is a prime example why. People call it a Michael Bay movie; it’s not. I don’t like Mark Millar but he has a thousand times more intelligent than Michael Bay. The problem is that he has the same fanboy impulses and need for huge explosive action. Some writers can pull off a ton of action and a ton of ideas (Grant Morrison’s JLA), but Ultimates is a failure in this regard. Just like in all of his work, Millar really wants to be smart and edgy and post-modern by having the Avengers be assholes and trying to talk about how the government will breed superweapons. But he also needs to have his teenage-fantasy hyperaction with tons of explosions and badassery and he just isn’t talented enough to marry them well. Same problem with Kick-Ass: Millar wants to be smart and subversive but also wants to tell a teenage action story.

Runaways – I hope I never meet Brian K. Vaughan, cause I just might punch him for breaking my heart so many times. Runaways is a prime example. He writes such real teenagers in such interesting ways, so while the story is thrilling and entertaining, the characters seem like people you knew in high school (hell in some cases they were you in high school). Also, big props to Vaughan creating a stereotypical dumb rebel character with Chase and making him one of the most relateable cahracters on the team. If Marvel knows what’s good for them, they won’t kill any of these characters off in Avengers Arena. If they do…

Scalped/Doom Patrol/Transmet – You can sum all of these up pretty much the same way. Three top tier writers bringing all of their best qualities together and creating delightfully weird, twisted, and poignant stories with great, satisfying endings. Nothing more to say other than that.

Odd how this chunk of 5 consists mostly of edgy/artsy/indie comics all grouped right around the same spot on the list. Every single one of those runs seemed like it was trying WAY too hard.

I hate typing a “review” like this, but the Ultimates is trash. I hate it. I hated it so much that I can’t even given it enough time and thought to trash it with decent reasons and justifications. I just hated it. It was nothing but pointless action and terrible characters.

Transmetropolitan remains one of my favourite series ever. Wonderfully consistent, fantastic stories/themes and (as discussed on the Warren Ellis documentary) an amazing work of futurist fiction.

I hate to admit that I have not read Scalped nor Runaways.

This is a good batch of comics.

THE ULTIMATES was a big, dumb action movie in comics form. I like big, dumb action movies. I like comics. I liked THE ULTIMATES.

What I’ve read of SCALPED is very good.

DOOM PATROL is the Morrison run for which I voted. It made me happy in a way that few comics ever have. It was so clever and inventive that every issue filled me with delight. Richard Case was a near perfect artist. John Workman did terrific work as letterer. It is rare that I notice the letterer, but Workman really complimented Morrison.

TRANSMETROPOLITAN is probably my third favorite Ellis work. It ranks behind PLANETARY and DESOLATION JONES (the BIG SLEEP takeoff cracked me up), but ahead of NEXTWAVE and THE AUTHORITY. It was funny and clever. I like funny and have a high tolerance for clever.

Ultimates – loves me some Btryan Hitch.

Scalped – need to get that.

Runaways – interesting.

Doom Patrol – need to get them.

Transmetropolitan – Warren kicked ass with this series – thanks also to Darick Robertson. Good comparison to HST a la F&LOTCT72. It’s a fantastic book if you haven’t read it.

I remember my favorite moment in Transmetropolitan. I haven’t read it in forever so I don’t remember all the details and I don’t remember what issue it was, but it went like this:

Spider Jerusalem runs into the bullpen for the newspaper he works for, yelling something like “HOLD THAT FRONT PAGE!” The Editor-in-Chief yells something like “YOU ARE NOT TOUCHING MY FRONT PAGE!” and in the next panel Spider just decks him in the face with this hilarious grin for no reason. You can tell Darick Robertson probably had a blast drawing that sequence and it was so funny because it was so outta left field and it wasn’t the kind of humor that usually showed up in the book.

So many great series in this instalment. Loved the first 2 volumes of the Ultimates series when they came out. I really need to go back and check them out again.

Read the first trade of Scalped and loved it! Got the 2nd and 3rd trades – just need time to read them! :) It would make an amazing tv series. Especially if the creators behind The Shield gave it a go.

I’ve got the oversized hardcover of the Runaways first 18 issues.And I’ve really liked it. Although not my favorite Vaughan work. I still have to finish it, I’m about 12 issues in!

Transmet and Doom Patrol are also on my ‘to read’ list!!

Wow. All things that I haven’t read yet but know I’ll love (Scalped and Doom Patrol) or that barely missed my list. Because after my top 4 the rankings change day to day I mostly picked my list to have as much diversity as possible, so I skipped The Ultimates in favor of Millar’s Ultimate X-Men run and Runaways in favor of Ex Machina. Transmet probably would have been on the list for sure if I were allowed a top 20.

Had I voted, Morrison’s Doom Patrol would have been a contender for the #1 position. But as an aside, Rachel Pollack’s first DP issues were pretty weak, weirdness for its own sake and poor copy of Morrison, but when she teamed up with Ted McKeever and found her own style she managed to make ~10 great issues before the book was cancelled. Had Pollack-McKeever run gone on longer, it would have been a good contender for top 30 runs…

I looked at Runaways at some point, didn’t connect with it.

Morrison’s Doom Patrol takes a huge dive from its 2008 standing, losing 191 points. I think that may be the highest point loss of any returning run yet. Again, I’ve heard from acquaintances that the book is either out of print or close to it, and that a full run is fairly difficult to find.

You can still get new copies of all the six TPBs on Amazon.com at the regular prize. I think the biggest reason for the drop in Doom Patrol’s placement is that in 2008 the final collection of Morrison’s run had just come out, so a lot of people who hadn’t read those comics when they originally came out were now enjoying them, and they were fresh in everyone’s memory. Also, back in 2008 Morrison’s Batman run was still pretty new, so it didn’t make a mark on the list, but in 2012 a lot of people are voting for it (I assume it’s still to come), which probably means less votes for other Morrison runs.

As for Transmetropolitan, my biggest problem with it was that Spider Jerusalem is supposed to be a really irritating yet ultimately likable character, but I just found him irritating. He is so obviously an example of a hard-boiled sci-fi writer projecting his writerly self-image into an idealized hero: an asshole “with a heart of gold”, a supposedly tough guy with supposedly cool clothes, tattoos and glasses, a hero who saves the world not with violence but with words (but isn’t afraid of violence, as he still needs to be tough to be a proper hero), and so on…

Also, (SPOILERS! SPOILERS!) the way Spider Jerusalem ultimately beats the bad guy made little sense, because Ellis had spent so many of the earlier issues showing how morally relativistic this future world is. It’s like he wanted his hero to be a cyberpunk Woodward/Bernstein, even though he’d made it clear the world where Woodward & Bernstein could do what they did was long gone.

The best batch for me by a mile. Everything in this batch either got a vote or was on my shortlist – except Scalped, which might make my list once I’ve read more of it.

Ultimates – My #5 vote. Fantastic series. I don’t feel the need for my superheroes to be likeable or heroic – and this bunch certainly aren’t. That’s fine though. It’s the Ultimate Universe so it’s great that Mark Millar took advantage of that to write stories you couldn’t write with the 616 versions of the characters. Captain America in particular was a brilliant take on the character. Bryan Hitch’s art is sublime here too.

Runaways – Possibly my favourite Bryan K Vaughan book (way way better than Y).

Scalped – I need to read more of this. It’s a bit more effort to get into, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Doom Patrol – Great stuff – Not quite up there with Animal Man for me, but still great.

Transmetropolitan – Another classic that a lot of people seem to be turning against recently. This missed my list by a whisker.

Ultimates: I understand the hate, but don’t share it. Hitch & Co. provided amazing art. Millar skewered early-’00s celebrity-obsessed culture nicely (although not nearly as inventively as Milligan did with X-Force), and I enjoyed reading the adventures of the Asshole Avengers. If Marvel had stopped publishing it’s regular universe comics and replaced them with Ultimate comics I wouldn’t have liked it, but Ultimates worked as an alternative.

Runaways: I loved this series. Vaughan & Alphonsa created the best teen hero title this side of Impulse. The stories were fun, the art was attractive, and the characters were great.

Scalped: I can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s suffocatingly dark and completely compelling. I’m reading it in trade and each collection makes me impatient for the next.

Doom Patrol: I finished the last trade recently. As weird as this series got, Morrison & Case kept the storytelling at the forefront and the characterization remained key throughout. I enjoyed this series tremendously. It might be my favorite Morrison series, up there with We3, 7 Soldiers, & All Star Superman.

Transmetropolitan: Another favorite, with a fantastic last issue. Warren Ellis has done good comics since, but Transmet might be his most fiery. The conclusion to the Vita Severin arc was a real shock. Robertson’s art was perfect for the series, and the background gags added a lot.

Woah didn’t expect Scalped to be here when it just ended :o

Back in 1990, I had been regularly reading comics for about 2 years or so, focusing mostly on whatever mainstream superhero comics my small town gas station would carry on its spinner rack, like X-Men, Batman, etc. Then on one of my first trips to a real comic book store, I picked up a copy of Doom Patrol #37 (Bisley’s cover art caught my eye…) and it was there that I remember truly falling in love with comic books as an art form. It totally warped my 13-year old brain as I must have read that one issue dozens of times, each time marvelling at some new facet of Morrison’s story or Case’s art that I had missed the times before. It was creepy, weird and cool all at once. From then on, I begged my parents to go to any comic store we drove past so I could hunt down the newest issues plus the missing back issues of #19-36. I remember going to my first comic show that fall and finding copies of #19-22 going for about $30 and spending every last cent I had saved on them and not regretting it one bit. DP was my gateway drug into reading Moore’s Swamp Thing, Morrison’s Animal Man, Gaiman’s Sandman, Delano’s Hellblazer and Milligan’s Shade, all of which still rank amongst my all-time favorite comics…

Scalped (#4): I loved reading the poster above who talked about the comparisons with the Wire because that’s what popped in my head too (although I could never break it down as well as he did). In the Wire, Baltimore was probably the most important “character”, the situations and politics of the city impacted the characters to the point where their own choices and paths were almost picked for them. You never looked at a character as inherently good or evil, just as products of often forced choices to survive. Scalped goes along that path using the setting of “The Rez” to do the same.

Runaways (#8): Loved, loved this book. Brian K. Vaughn said his idea came from thinking back to his childhood and remembering the times where he thought his parents were “evil” for punishing him. And then asking the question “what if they actually were evil?” Amazing pitch, and pulled of just as well.

Transmetropolitan (#3): Although not my #1 pick, the one I probably get the most excited about due to its subject matter. I’m a political junkie who hates how politics is covered by the media (not bias, just lack of depth). I think Spider is just a way more intelligent, ballsy extension of my own feelings on the matter.

Ed (A Different One)

October 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

Count me among those who consider Scalped to be an “instant classic”. That was Jason Aaron first real significant work and I fear that he may end up living in its shadow for the majority of his career. I mean, how’s he going to top it?

I”m rooting for him to do so but, boy, what a hill to climb . . .

I voted for Ultimates. It was one of the first things I read when I started comics, and definitely the best of the early batch. My vote was partly nostalgic, but I still think it holds up.

Scalped was number 2 on my list and I think when I get around to rereading it I may regret not putting it at number 1. I’m surprised and happy to see it up this high. So go CBR voters, especially the four who voted it number 1! Also, I really hope some of those commenting you need to read it do try it based on this poll – I don’t think you will regret it.

Really good bunch of books. Everything here is a solid “A” from me.

Wow, I just needed to comment to say how overjoyed I am to see Scalped do so well, coming in at #33. What a pleasant surprise! Scalped is one of my all-time favourite comics, and when I voted it rated very highly in my top 10, but I feared it was something of an overlooked gem. When we got into the top 50 and there was still no sign of the book, I feared it had been overlooked once more. But no, it placed very highly, even topping comic book runs which are more widely acclaimed. Kudos, CBR readers, for your impeccable comic book taste!

Interesting rankings here…

While most people are praising Scalped for how high it is, I’m actually surprised at how low it is. I was really expecting it to be in the 10-16 range, just like Y: The Last Man was in ’08 (which had just recently finished at the time, similar to Scalped now). And I’m not an advocate of overblowing the quality of new stuff, I’m just saying that’s where I assumed Scalped would end up. I’m also shocked at how low Ultimates is considering it was the largest comic influence on the most successful comic movie ever, which was fresh in people’s minds while they were voting. While proper Avengers runs have all seen major increases in rank, Ultimates fell despite being closer to the movie than any of the actual Avengers runs. Curious.

Ultimates- I love it, and I’m not often a fan of Millar. I think his name on the book makes a lot of people dislike it instinctively. I really see Ultimates as the other side of Watchmen. If Watchmen was what super heroes would look like in the real world, Ultimates was what the real world would look like in a comic book universe. While Watchmen tried to remain relatively grounded, Ultimates strived for realism while still going gleefully over the top. And look, I think Watchmen is the greatest comic of all-time and I don’t think Ultimates is on that level, I’m just saying it mines similar ground and similar themes without feeling derivative, which isn’t easy. It found a way to combine grim & gritty with COMICS!, which hadn’t totally been done before. I didn’t vote for it, but it was on my short list of 20-25 candidates. And I think Ultimates is, for better or worse, probably the most influential comic of the 2000s (thus far).

Runaways- I predicted a few days ago that it was a likely candidate to fall off the list entirely, but I admitted at the time that the guess could just be my bias for not really loving the series. I’m very surprised that it held it’s same ranking from ’08. I read the first 18 issues and didn’t enjoy it enough to continue, but now I’m thinking I should give it another chance.

Scalped- Love this series, but haven’t read the last trade yet, which kept me from voting for it (so no spoilers!). I cannot fathom why the hell DC hasn’t released this in hardcover yet. 5 deluxe hardcovers collecting the whole series, with nice intros and extras, would be perfect. While I don’t think it’s as complex as the WIre (which I think is the greatest cultural achievement of the 2000s, with no real close competitor), I can at least see the comparison. And hey, both had 60 chapters. Scalped reminds me of something Sidney Lumet wrote in his book Making Movies, that the key to a great character piece is that the audience has to have no idea where it’s going, but when it gets there, the audience has to believe it never could have ended any other way. My favorite was the arc about unwanted children. Really affecting stuff.

Doom Patrol- A great series, but I’m not surprised it fell given how many Morrison acolytes probably decided to vote for Batman this time around. Personally, I picked Animal Man as my Morrison vote.

Transmetropolitan- I picked Planetary as my Ellis vote, but I love this series too. Another series DC desperately needs to get in hardcover, just like they’ve done with Preacher, Y, Fables, and 100 Bullets. However, I was always a little disappointed that the series almost exclusively stuck to politics after the first year. Issues 4-9 were this wonderful stretch examining all of these quirky elements of future, and that’s where I think the series was at its best. The issues about religious cults, nature preserves, and digital reincarnation still stick out in my mind. And I’ve always believed that the way Spider was portrayed in the first issue–as a hairy recluse who didn’t want to write anymore because the fame made him paranoid–was clearly meant to be Alan Moore. Did anyone else interpret it this way?

“When it’s at it’s best, which is pretty frequently, Transmet is a really smart take on mass culture, set in a dystopic future, starring Watergate-era Hunter S. Thompson.”

My main problem with Transmet is that it’s doing the HST thing, but the society that it sets up is so over-the-top (in an attempt at satire) that it seems like a straw man. (Similar to the Bush surrogate in “Black Summer”, come to think of it, but I can forgive that sort of thing more in a tossed off thing like that than in one of his major works.)

That plus Ellis really really loves that poop gun.

Third Man — I read Transmet 1 as a sort of metaphor of “hairy Alan Moore” changing over into “bald shiny Morrison” and that that’s kinda what Vertigo did. Or something.

And I’m totally going to spoil the end of Scalped for you. What happens is… ;) j/k

Ultimates was ok, not a favorite but good stuff. I think Hitch is good but something about his stuff just doesn’t do it for me. Millar was pretty good here too. I like the Hulk “why Betty love Freddie Prinze Jr?” stuff.

Runaways — um, I don’t think Brian quite updated this entry from last time… I read it and liked it quite well (thanks, library!), but it’s not something I’d vote for. But I certainly see why it got votes.

I’ve read portions of GMozz on DP, but still haven’t gotten the whole thing. Cool ass stuff. Arnold Drake supposedly dug his run too.

Transmet — only read the first issue in one of those Vertigo First Taste books. I thought about getting the first 3 volumes at the local big box store. I believe that the series was somewhat recently re-released in new versions of the trades.

And Scalped. So good. You know it’s great when one of the best issues of the series doesn’t even feature any of the main characters (35, the older couple who live in the “suburbs”, if you will). And that “each kid gets a burger” is such a heartbreaking moment. I remember a post from the year that came out where you featured that as a “creepy” moment of the year, or something. I think Scalped’s second half was not quite as good as the first — from what Aaron’s said in interviews, he had an outline for roughly the first half of the book, along with bits and pieces he wanted to do, and that outline took him to about issue 34, I think. After that, and maybe the Unwanted arc that Third Man mentions, it didn’t go bad, certainly, but it seemed like Aaron lost steam somehow. Like there were certain things that “had” to happen, so that the book became a bit more plot driven rather than the awesome characterization it had been to that point.

However, it still ended strongly, don’t get me wrong.

Scalped was my list’s 13 (yes, I know). It was also one of the books that really kept me big on comics, as around the time it started, I was burning out a bit. I think when it started, I started looking for the lists of what was coming out each month in Comic Shop News more, and I think I started visiting here a little more regularly.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives